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WHAT AN AMAZING 48 HOURS!

By Jeff Bornstein, NCFC Board Member
Trip Report - Leon, Nicaragua
October 10-12, 2014

 

An overnight trip had me in Managua on a Friday morning to attend the graduation of three young men - Angel and Henry from our Carpentry Program and Francisco, whom we met 12 years ago when he lived at Casa Jacinta, a shelter for abandoned youth.  The three NCFC scholarship recipients were graduating from the state-run residential agriculture school they have been attending for the past three

Francisco asked me to accompany him because as he put it "We (NCFC) are his family. We have been the only ones to be there for him".  How could I refuse?  So began my journey.

In Managua, we made a quick stop to see Noel, a former NCFC scholarship recipient and Casa Jacinta resident who now works at the best bakery in Managua, "Sampson", and then it was off to the colonial City of Leon.

I arrived at the home we rent for our Las Esperanzas Project for high-risk adolescent girls is located.   The neighborhood is extremely poor but here were a dozen or more girls in our oasis - happy, engaged and safe.  What I saw was incredible.  There were four different teachers simultaneously teaching different groups of girls: advanced math, sewing, arts and crafts and handwriting.  I took the handwriting course and barely passed.  One of the girls, Perla Veronica recited a beautiful poem.   I was also treated to a dance performance that included Julixa.

I hosted dinner that night to honor  “Profesor Juan”, our carpentry program head, role model and mentor for the young men on scholarship.   Nine of us attended, including the graduates, other alumni of the carpentry program and “Profesor” Juan’s son.  The young men each shared their experiences with Juan and then we all talked about what's important in life, next steps and perseverance.  While my Spanish was not good enough to follow everything, my senses were good enough to see real communication and genuine affection and appreciation for their mentor.  Fantastic!

The graduation day began at 5:45 am Saturday.  Fourteen of us drove together to the school in a minivan school an hour plus away.  We took lots of pictures also on our website.  It was a tale of two cultures; from the school officials - it was about change through revolution and Sandino and the new canal a Chinese billionaire wants to build in Southern Nicaragua.

But from where I sat, the real change I saw was the growth in these young men; it was NCFC’s help and financial support, our mentors and psychologists, our tutors and our staff regularly checking in with and holding them accountable.  It was the fact that here were three young men who were now educated and ready to start productive lives in various agricultural related industries.   And what I saw was three very happy and proud young men and so were their families.  Francisco was the only student speaker.  Quite an honor!  He helped ensure that our organization was named along with those government and religious persons worthy of praise and thanks.  Wow!

Our group had a wonderful lunch and on the drive back, the boys and I talked about the real meaning of revolution.  I told them real change started with education, good health, good jobs, equal rights for both men and women and people working together to help each other make a better nation.

Once we returned to Leon, I went to the carpentry program and talked with Bryan, a   young man who participates in a youth street theater group funded by an international organization. Bryan teaches workshops on safe sex practices, including correct use of condoms.  Then it was off to dinner with Francisco and Noel, who joined us from Managua, the Giants game and straight talk about life.  I told them that there would be ups and downs but that they had to be positive (Si se puede!  Yes you can!).  I also told them not to be ashamed to ask for help when they needed it. 

As we walked back to the hotel so they could get home, we took care of one more important task.  I bought them condoms, hugged them and told them to be safe out there.  What an amazing trip!

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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